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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

*** 1/2 KRS-One "The Sneak Attack," In the Paint / KOCH

April 22, 2001|SOREN BAKER

Even though rap continues to evolve at breakneck speed, this Bronx veteran remains at the creative forefront after 15 years. On his fourth album as a solo artist (the first five were with Boogie Down Productions as a frontman), the Teacher, as KRS-One is also known, spends much of his time attempting to educate listeners about the history and power of hip-hop and, at the same time, empower them by stressing that intelligence is something to be revered.

For virtually any other rapper, this generally wholesome course would be disastrous commercially in an era dominated by tales of lavish living and easy sex. For KRS-One, however, it comes across as muscular and as potent as the fantasy-like rants of any gangster rapper.

That's because KRS-One is among the genre's most polished and accomplished lyricists. Some of the production isn't as strong as it could be on the album, but KRS-One questions the validity of thug posturing on "Hush" and gives an insightful look back at his storied recording history on "Hiphop Knowledge." And it's more than empty rhetoric from one of rap's elder statesmen. KRS-One offers solutions to problems plaguing society on "Get Your Self Up" and delivers a clever fable on "False Pride."

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are due in stores Tuesday.

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